Visiting Lisbon the Alluring Capital of Portugal
- By:Stan Smith
Lisbon is known as the major artery of Portugal’s transportation system. A network of railways and highways converge at Lisbon. Public transportation within the city entails electric trams, trains, buses, and curiously enough, an entire system of elavadors (cable-operated trams). Most notably, the Elavador de Santa Justa made of cast iron that vertically rises up to 148 feet.
The city is shaped into the corrugated sides of seven hills. The lowest point in Lisbon is the waterfront area where the Alfama district can be found. This district, one of the few portions of the city that endured an earthquake in 1755, espouses winding narrow streets and fascinating medieval structures. Another district, Baixa, had to be rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, but still represents the finest of 18th-century architecture and ambiance. Similarly, the hilly Bairro Alto district with its lush gardens and quaint neighborhoods, lavish in a 17th -century setting.
Lisbon’s population is around 600,000 in the city itself. Two million people live in the area around Lisbon, including both sides of the Tejo River. The area enjoys short winters and long summers with the maximum temperature said to not be over 84 degrees Fahrenheit. December through March is the rainy season when mostly drizzle or light showers take place.
Lisbon and its surrounding area provide visitors with a diverse array of encounters. There are many sandy beaches available in the area. The city’s abundant street cafes delight patrons with local fare. Neighboring fishing villages give a realistic view of life in a working seaport. Of course, the city provides modern shopping and offers a multitude of cultural activities. However, the dense vegetation that harbors mystical royal palaces in the area north of Lisbon cannot be missed.
The main maritime entrance into the city is the Praca do Comercio. It was built over the ruins of a 400-year-old palace. Other curious historical points of interest around the city include Saint George Castle, the Monastery of Jeronimos, and the Tower of Belem.
Saint George Castle is located on the highest hill in Lisbon. It was an ancient citadel that the Moors conquered in 1147. The castle actually dates back to the 5th century, A.D. Vistas from the castle are breathtaking. Locals as well as tourists enjoy the tranquility and spectacular views of the city and the riverbank area.
The Monastery of Jeronimos was built in 1498 as a monument to the15th century Portuguese navigator Vasco de Gama. Many a sailor would pray in its chapel before heading out to sea. The monastery is adorned with stone statues of sea monsters, various maritime symbols, and brilliantly colored tiles.
The Tower of Belem, built in 1521, rises above a series of forts that once protected the riverbank area. Presently, two bridges span the Tejo River. The 25th of April Bridge built in 1966 and the Vasco de Gama Bridge built in 1998. Modern day Lisboetas, people of Lisbon, are not worried about fortifying their city instead mobility is the greater need.
As it emerges as a major city in the European Union, Lisbon continues to celebrate its extensive past and optimistically anticipates its destiny to come.
About the author:
Stan Smith writes for Four Corners Hotels http://www.fourcornershotels.com/index.php/PT--Lisbon which offers hotels in cities around the world including hotels located in Lisbon.